Medicare has lost billions of dollars due to fraud at all levels. Medicaid expenditures total $415 billion annually, and Medicare pays out $600 billion a year. According to The Economist, about $98 billion of it represents fraudulent payments. Want to know how to help stem the tide that ultimately flows from all of our pockets and affects care levels?
Senior Medicare Patrols (SMPs) are funded in each state to train volunteers to provide grassroots education on Medicare fraud prevention, and to help detect & resolve issues of fraud and abuse. They provide valuable information and a place to turn for help.
Types of fraud & abuse include:
- Intentionally billing for services not received
- Billing more than is justified for the service provided
- Supplying unnecessary products and services
- Offering ‘free’ services to get your Medicare number
- Using someone else’s Medicare number
Because Medicare/Medicaid and supplemental insurances pay for a lot of senior medical costs, there is little direct incentive to pay attention to the details of bills. But when you see these staggering numbers, it becomes clear that fraud affects everyone who pays taxes, or can’t get the coverage they need because the money just isn’t available.
Here are some ways to be proactive:
- Treat your Medicare card like your social security card (the numbers are almost the same). Don’t carry it with you! (Use the Medicare Card Trick*)
- Don’t give your number to anyone but your provider, to avoid identity theft.
- Know that Medicare will not call you by phone, or visit your home.
- Be suspicious of ‘free’ offers.
- Review your medical bills and demand detailed itemization of charges.
- Report suspected fraud & abuse to the Senior Medicare Patrol in your state.
- Share this information. If all Medicare recipients pay attention, fraud will go down.
*The Medicare Card Trick, is where you make a copy of your card to carry with you, but black out all but the last 4 numbers and the letter of your account. You can also put emergency contact information on the back.
SENIOR MEDICARE PATROL